Above photo: Omar Chatman stands in front of the gate to the Governor’s Mansion at a 1,000 brothers and sisters in arms for second amendment walk by predominantly black men and women to advocate for their second amendment rights, Saturday, June 20, 2020. Doug Hoke for the The Oklahoman.
Between 150 and 200 protesters peacefully marched from the Ralph Ellison Library to the Governor’s Mansion on Saturday to deliver a double-barreled message.
“We aren’t going to allow people to come into our communities and brutalize us,” event organizer Omar Chatman said before the event. “If you come into our community, know we are armed.”
The 1000 Brothers and Sisters in Arms protest might not have approached its eponymous numbers, but it bore enough artillery to pop the National Rifle Association’s buttons.
Community organizer Michael Washington was among the speakers who said the march was a response to the recent killings of Black men by police as well as local cases they want reopened.
The march, made up mostly of Black men but with plenty of diversity, commenced from 2000 NE 23 just after 2:30 p.m., slowing oncoming traffic as it headed west before landing at the north gate of the Governor’s Mansion about 20 minutes later and created a blockade.
Gov. Kevin Stitt was not at the residence. He was in Tulsa for President Donald Trump’s campaign rally.
Washington gathered protesters while support vehicles blocked off traffic on NE 23, in both directions, with help from the Oklahoma City Police Department.
Chatman, 41 and a certified family counselor, took the bullhorn flanked by Pan-African flags and exhorted the gathered to settle on the north side of the street.
“We must be civilized,” he told the crowd before launching into an oratory reiterating the reasons for the protest, and the reasons they came armed — namely dissatisfaction with police.
“Their job is not to patrol and control,” Chatman said. “How can this Governor live in a predominantly Black side of town but allow the police to execute us when we have our hands in the air?
“This is systematic racism, deep in the heart of America.”
Chatman referenced a recent case in which two parole officers on a home visit ordered two Black children, ages 5 and 8, to the ground. He called the incident “intolerable.”
“We don’t want just their badges taken, we don’t want just their guns taken,” Chatman said. “We want them in jail!”
Chatman, who was armed with an AR-15, said, “All too often on this side of town, police have acted as judge, jury, and executioner.”
Following Chatman was Charles Pettit Sr., whose son C.J. was killed by a Midwest City police officer in 2015. Pettit pleaded with the governor to reopen the case based on video evidence he believes tells a different story than the report.
Washington and Chatman walked a letter with their demands to a security guard at the gate to end the event.
Demands included the reopening of the C.J. Pettit Jr. case, state laws that hold law enforcement officers accountable when they are found to be at fault in any incident of police activity, police officers be required to carry their own liability insurance and an investigation into the United States for human rights violations of its Black population by the International World Court.